Monocyte-macrophages, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and prolonged survival among patients with acute myeloid leukemia and stem cell transplants

Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Jun;26(6):1282-9. doi: 10.1086/516361.


Recombinant GM-CSF has been recently shown to prolong survival of elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by reducing the rate of induction therapy-related mortality. In a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter study conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group in the United States, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) was given only to those patients who had hypocellular or remission marrow on day 10 of one or two cycles of standard induction therapy. Although the administration of GM-CSF significantly reduced a wide range of adverse events, the main benefit of this cytokine seems to be mediated by a reduction in sepsis. A similarly designed study, conducted by the Southwest Oncology Group in a directly comparable AML patient population with use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) as the supportive cytokine, showed no survival benefit and no reduction in the rates of serious or lethal sepsis. In most current clinical situations, GM-CSF and G-CSF are indistinguishable both in terms of efficacy and toxicity. GM-CSF and G-CSF have very different impacts on the survival of patients with AML. The stimulation of monocyte-macrophage function and proliferation by GM-CSF may mediate the selective benefit of GM-CSF in patients with AML and stem cell transplants. GM-CSF merits further study as therapy for and/or protection against opportunistic sepsis in patients with cancer and will be included in a number of International Oncology Study Group protocols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / complications
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / mortality
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / therapy*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*


  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor